BOS reaffirms channelling concerns amid call for Svenska Spel divestment

BOS, the Swedish trade association for online gambling, has called for a divestment of Svenska Spel and backed proposals to introduce B2B licenses, as it responds to the Gambling Market Inquiry.

Submitting its opinion on the report, titled ‘Increased protection and strengthened regulation in the re-regulated gambling market,’ the group suggests that it does not embrace the reality of a strained low degree of channelling. It adds that the place of online casinos within the licensing system “is seriously threatened”.

“It may be appropriate to recall why it is important to have a high degree of channelling. Channelling is not a consumer protection measure per se, nor is it a tax revenue or other regulatory measure,” BOS’ response says. 

“But, and this is what is so important, all regulatory measures aimed at a high level of consumer protection and other results desired by the state, including tax revenues, presuppose that players are channelled into the state-designated gaming market.”

Adding: “In the long run, the entire Swedish gaming license system is threatened if the channelling is not shown greater care”.

The trade association is also negative on the absence of proposals regarding a divestment of Svenska Spel’s competitive gambling operations, with BOS questioning the role of the state as a commercial player in the gaming market.

“In our response to the consultation, we also call for a strategy for the divestment of Svenska Spel’s competitive gambling operations,” Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary general of BOS, commented 

“We agree with the parties in the Swedish parliament that believe that the state should not act in the competitive gambling market like any other commercial gambling company.

“This damages confidence in the state’s ability to regulate the gambling market independently. It is now time to start planning for a divestment of Svenska Spel Sport & Casino.”

Furthermore, BOS also backs a proposal to introduce B2B licenses, which it says will “be an effective requirement that will help defend the channelling and the Swedish licensing system”.

It was warned that how the requirements in these licenses are formulated is crucial for the success of the reform, with it assumed that the industry will be offered opportunities for early influence in the development of the regulations. 

The group believes that the main method for preventing and counteracting gambling addiction is to risk classify players rather than games, and has slammed a proposed ban on the marketing of online casinos on radio, television and streamed media between 6am and 9pm. 

“We defend the commercial freedom of expression in our response to the consultation and reject the proposal to ban marketing of online casinos between 06:00-21:00 on television, radio and streaming media,” Hoffstedt added.

“Marketing is the single most important tool for convincing Swedish gambling consumers to choose games within the Swedish licensing system. If the opportunity for Swedish-licensed companies to inform about their existence is removed, it will lead to even more gambling consumers choosing games on the black gambling market. 

“This is already a major problem today – every fourth gambling krona is not played within the licensing system – and the leakage is expected to become even greater if the proposal is adopted. It would be a great loss for everyone who advocates for strong consumer protection on the gambling market”.